Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death for teenagers in California and around the country, and many young drivers crash when they are distracted by friends or cellphones. Strict graduated driver’s license programs are designed to reduce the risks, but the primary responsibility for teaching teenagers how to behave responsibly behind the wheel still falls on their parents. Researchers from the University of Michigan recently asked about 900 parents about their road safety concerns, and more than 40% of them said that teens traveling in groups, loud music and cellphone use were among their biggest fears.

Distraction was likely a common theme because six out of 10 of the parents surveyed said that their children had a friend or acquaintance who regularly lost concentration while behind the wheel. More than 40% of the respondents told the researchers that they responded to this danger by limiting highway driving, and almost half of them said they curtailed the amount of time their children could spend on the road with friends in their vehicle.

Most of the parents also placed limits on driving in poor weather and nighttime trips. Venturing out onto the roads in heavy rain, snow or ice was forbidden or restricted by 68% of the parents surveyed, and many of the respondents limited journeys made after midnight. The results of the survey were published on Sept. 16.

Personal injury attorneys may initiate lawsuits against California parents or legal guardians when their clients are injured in car accidents caused by negligent teen drivers. This is because parents or guardians must sign California driver’s license paperwork when the applicant is under 18 years of age. By signing the application, parents or guardians acknowledge that they could be held financially responsible for any harm suffered in accidents caused by their children or legal charges.